Rapha‘s return to Contender Bicycles after years of being online-only has led to plenty of questions. There is no doubt that their name is synonymous with quality, and that their kit is a great choice for those looking to maximize their comfort and style on rides long and short. But how does Rapha and their Pro Team kit we covered in the past hold up against winter riding in Salt Lake City?
More specifically, I’m talking about the Rapha Pro Team Winter Tights with Pad II, Rapha Pro Team Training Jacket, and Rapha Pro Team Thermal Base Layer Long Sleeve. These have been used twice a week (with a short break around the holiday season) since November 2019 and have been ridden in temperatures ranging from the low 50s Fahrenheit to under freezing temperatures.
Full disclosure, the Rapha logos on each leg show some delamination and weathering. This pair of tights I received from Rapha had logos that looked weathered out of the box. I didn’t notice it until we did our first photoshoot. Riding at least once a week (and washing them at least as often!) has resulted in no change to the logo lamination. This is the only Rapha kit we’ve received with this kind of issue.
With that said, I’ve been very impressed with these tights. I’ve run the gamut of Assos, Q36.5, and other brands we don’t carry, and I feel that the Pro Team Winter Tights with Pad II is every bit as good as what I’ve used. As I said in the First Look, the thick DWR fabric up front keeps blocks wind and some moisture, while the backside of the bib tight is a little bit lighter.
The compressive nature of the tight is at first unnerving, a bit like the feeling of getting back on the bike after having packed on a few lbs after the holidays, and I would know. I’ve come to appreciate the compression of the bib tight, however, and adore how good it is at thermo-regulation.
I have a propensity of going on rides with plenty of climbing in the winter. One ride in particular saw a 29 degree F ride turn into a 17 degree F ride at the top of the climb. Riding relatively slowly up the climb builds a lot of heat and resultant sweat. Downhill, the cooler temps that come from higher elevation are made worse by the higher speeds. Back to back with other bib tights or legwarmers paired with standard shorts, the Pro Team Winter Tights felt warmer than my bib tights and facilitated pedaling motion better than my thermal leg warmers. Was I cold? Yes, and I’m telling you all that I regret having done that ride. But that I was able to finish by ride without quitting is a win-win, all things considered.
You ride and ride and ride all summer long in a lightweight jersey and bib shorts only to be bundled up in kit that feels bulky, constrictive, and often underwhelming. The longer you’re out, the more you begin to appreciate a piece of well-engineered kit. The Rapha Pro Team Training Jacket really started to shine in the middle of a 70-mile ride.
More specifically, I noticed the jacket descending Hillcrest. Those who have ridden in Salt Lake County know that hitting 50 miles an hour descending Hillcrest is fairly easy, the only issue is doing so on a 35-degree Fahrenheit day covered in sweat. And usually descending something like that is a fight to keep your core warm. I’ve had to stop halfway down myriad times with other jackets. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case here. Not only was I able to brave the cold wind with relative aplomb, but did so without really thinking about it.
Honestly, the last thing I want to do is think about my jacket the entire ride. I didn’t have to do it here, and frankly I don’t really have to do it ever. You name it: light rain, snow, or plenty of sun, and the Pro Team Training Jacket did it fairly easily.
Complaints? I do wish it were a bit warmer, but the jacket isn’t made for that. It does a good job of thermal regulation compared to other jackets I’ve used. I feel like a good amount of that has to do with its fit, which is still as close-fitting as it was when I first described it. This is the slimmest-fitting jacket I’ve tried, and it is designed to fit as such and not because I indulged more than I should’ve during the holidays (I’m still recovering, OK?). Pair it with a quality base layer and wind jacket and it’ll work well for everything but the coldest rides.
On the durability front, there has been no delamination, no peeling, no loose thread stitching. The DWR seems about the same as it has been from the start.
Speaking of quality baselayers, the Rapha Pro Team Winter Baselayer easily qualifies. Everything I said in our First Look applies here; it is warmer than it looks, and is comfortable enough that I use it when I snowshoe or ski. The built-in gaiter (or snood as they call it) is a game-changer and has made me an advocate for neck warmth. Good work Rapha.
In a number of ways, a base layer is what gets the hardest-hit and this baselayer has handled everything with ease. Like everything else, no wear, no delamination.
Riding through the winter in Salt Lake City subjects your cycling gear to plenty of mud, grime, snow, rain, and salt (duh). That this stuff from Rapha allows me to be comfortable on freezing days without falling apart is a motivator. I know that for as much as I might hate riding in the winter, this Rapha kit is always game.
Find yourself in the heat of cold-weather riding? We have loads of apparel from Rapha as well as many other brands to help you ride all year long. Give us a call or send us an email at any time to email@example.com.